Purplesmile, a regular longtime poster here at the blog, calls Manila, The Philippines home. Lucky for us, she has a first hand account of two of Taylor Hicks’ 3 recent mall gigs in the city. She also took some video and photos.
TAYLOR HICKS LIVE IN MANILA
This time last year, getting to see my favorite Idols live was purely wishful thinking on my part. Who would have thought that poor little me from this distant country would get to see two of my favorite Idols right here on home territory? And for free, at that! Not I, certainly. But it did happen! Many, many thanks to the Ayala Malls (I should shop there more ;D), who, this year, first brought my favorite Idol, Elliott Yamin, here in September, and, just more than a week ago, the first American Idol winner to visit us, Taylor Hicks, who I also am a fan of. So I went to Taylor first two Manila shows (the venues of which are both very conveniently located only a couple of blocks away from my office) and enjoyed them immensely.
For the first show at the Glorietta 4 Dolphin Park, on the pretext that I was going to the nearby mall to buy a CD for our dance number (for our division Christmas party happening two days later), I snuck out of the office in the morning of December 18 to try to score a concert stub from the Glorietta concierge. They were only giving one (of 100 available) to each person who asks, but since I noticed there were quite a few stubs left and there was no line of people behind me, I convinced the staff to give me at least two (one for my sister) and succeeded. (I also really did get that dance CD, of course! Heh.)
I arrived for the first show, which was scheduled for 7 pm, at about 6:50 pm (work got in the way, ugh!), by which time most of the better seats were already taken. The show started about a half-hour after 7. Taylor gave a fantastic performance but I felt that while the crowd was certainly appreciative, it was generally still a little tentative in showing its Taylor love. (Or maybe that’s just because I had crappy seats – at the back, to the side of the stage, beside the speakers/concert crew stand – and couldn’t see, or hear very well, the reactions of the majority of the crowd.)
Taylor did a ten-song set: The Runaround, Heart and Soul, Use Me, Just To Feel That Way, The Maze, The Right Place, Taking It To The Streets, DIMYP, Heaven Knows, and White Christmas. His back-up was a Filipino band (session musicians), including a musical director (popular Filipino musician Louie Ocampo) and two back-up singers. I didnt think DIMYP was sung very well, but the other numbers were fantastic. My favorite performance was The Maze. I loved it when he tagged it with Let’s Get It On. The Right Place was also very good. Taylor added nice tags to the other numbers, too, but I wasnt very familiar with most of them. He also played his harmonica more than a couple of times. There was no encore.
I didn’t have a meet and greet pass for this show (I think they were given away only to sponsors, VIPs, and Ayala Malls privilege cardholders), and, in fact, non-M&G stub holders were asked to vacate their seats and leave the venue after the show, but I stayed put because I was hoping for a chance to get near the stage and see Taylor up close. Heh. During the M&Gs, some fans (who stayed like I did) would occasionally shout …Soul Patrol and Taylor would look in their direction and smile. After a few minutes, I did manage to slowly inch my way into the area near the stage. After the M&Gs, to our surprise and delight, Taylor went down the stage and came near us to sign autographs (despite the loudspeakers repeatedly blurting out earlier that there would be autograph-signing). Unfortunately, I didn’t get my CD jackets signed then because they were in my bag that I left with my sister at our original seats, but it gave me a chance to see Taylor really up close and even take a video snippet of him signing, as well as a couple of decent close up photos.
Now, while I enjoyed the Glorietta show, I knew the next show could only be better, and it certainly was! For one, I didnt have to line up to get ticket stubs to this show. I was supposed to go with several Yaminoy (Filipino Elliott Yamin fans) friends, one of whom was able to get us into the VIP/sponsors list, but it turned out that our names were erroneously listed for the Glorietta show the night before instead; my friends thus had to settle for watching the show standing outside the cordoned-off area. :( I, however, was very fortunate to still get a front seat in the general public section, courtesy of one other Yaminoy friend (who is also a big, big Taylor fan), who went to camp out outside the mall to get ticket stubs as early as seven in the morning (the mall concierge doesn’t open until 11 am, heh) and very kindly gave me a concert stub and a meet and greet pass (to get which she had had to ask her mom to line up with her!).
Now this show was awesome! The venue, Greenbelt 3 Park, was smaller but much nicer. (It is a small open space in a semi-circle set up, surrounded by nice restaurants and cafes with outdoor tables, so even people who were there to just dine or hang out were treated to the music). It was very well-packed with people who were clearly Taylor fans. I even saw some people (classy-looking ladies and some expats) either begging or arguing to be let into the seating area (particularly for the VIPs). At this venue, I could see at once that the crowd was all revved-up for Taylor. And, indeed, during the show, I could hear distinctly the abundant clapping, the “whooos, ” the “yeahs, ” the …Soul Patroool!s, ” and the “I/We love you, Taylor’s” and see all the hand-waving, finger-snapping, and dancing and grooving that went on (lots of which were also being done by me ¦good thing I couldnt see it, lol; it was very bad for my video and photo quality, though, lolol).
Taylor and the band had apparently jived well by this time. They did the same set of songs, but Taylor added even more tags to his numbers. The Runaround was a great opener; Taylor was very energetic and the crowd was loud (particularly the fangirls and fanboys seated right behind me and my friend). Even DIMYP was sung well on this night; the crowd was waving arms during the chorus. Before doing Taking It To the Streets, Taylor said it was an honor to play in the Philippines and that he appreciates …it. Towards the end, he played his harp (he did so at other times, too). He also gave some stage time and introduced his (19-year) old bongo player during this number. After the song ended, he drank some water while some of the audience were yelling …Soul Patrol and then he yelled Soul Patrol back and leaned that …lean (turning his face towards, but with his back to the audience).
My other favorites:
The Maze, which he also tagged with Easy this time (the crowd loved it; we snapped our fingers when Taylor asked us to)
The Right Place (you could see Taylor was really feeling the music and yet was clearly having a lot of fun; he played with a lot of …Be there tags with the drummer and inserted Desperado at the end)
Heaven Knows (people were clapping as Taylor started to sing; he tagged with a song unfamiliar to me and with We Want The Funk; very fun, funky number)
White Christmas (perfect Christmas song because many Filipinos do dream of White Christmases, heh; Taylor started out slow and soft, under nice blue lighting, with only a piano background, I think, and then he amped it up in the middle with a Merry Christmas, baby tag and chants of …Say Soul Patrol, which the crowd obeyed; at one point, the group of enthusiastic young fans behind me screamed …We Love You, Taylor and Taylor responded by singing …I love you, too ¦)
From the first number to the last one, Taylor gave it all and the crowd certainly gave back. I was so enjoying myself that when Taylor started with White Christmas, I suddenly felt very disappointed; I even turned to my friend and said something like, “Oh, it’s over?” (like I wasn’t the one between the two of us that saw the first show and should have known, lol). I was certainly wanting more!
Afterwards, I got to join the M&G, which went by so fast that on my turn, all I got to say to Taylor was, “Hi, Taylor. Great show!” and he said, “Thanks” and our photo was taken. After I was quickly ushered off the stage, I ran back to the foot of it, hoping to be able to get a shot of my friend with him, but her session was already over, too. I still hung around, anyway, because I was hoping he would again come down the stage to sign autographs and, this time, I had my stuff safely lodged in the inside pocket of my jacket. I didn’t move fast enough, though, such that Taylor (who didn’t go down the stage this time but just reached from the stage for the stuff people were handing him to sign) had already given his Sharpie to an assistant by the time I tried to hand him my TH and UTR CD (which JJ gave to me) jackets (my IYT is already autographed, thanks to metta!). I said, “Oh ¦could you please sign these, too?” and he looked like he was going to tell me, “I’m sorry…no more…” but then he, all this time leaning down towards me, straightened up, looked around, and finally saw the security guy nearest him and asked for his pen, which he used to sign my things. After he acknowledged my “thanks” with a little nod and a teeny bit of a smile, he immediately waved to the people and left the stage. By that time, I was obviously a happy camper! ;)
I didnt get to watch his last show at TriNoma (the dang Christmas party ‘ pooper!) but I heard it was also a great show with a good turnout. I sure hope Taylor comes back to the Philippines soon. I greatly enjoyed this Taylor Hicks Live in Manila experience and I would definitely love a repeat (even if I have to pay). ;)